The CFL Final Four is set. The semi-finals have been and gone. Just as it’s next man up every time a player goes down, in the playoffs it’s a next game up culture.
None of the four remaining teams can afford to rest on their laurels. No time for looking back, only onto the next games, – the East and West finals.
Unlike last year, there is still a crossover team in with a chance of reaching the Grey Cup too.
The East Final
Edmonton Eskimos (9-10) at Hamilton Tiger-Cats (15-3)
Hamilton went into last years East Division finals as overwhelming underdogs. This year they are the overwhelming favourites.
For Edmonton, as we have seen, to get past this point is a daunting task.
Although the Ti-Cats are hosting an Eastern Final for the first time since 2014 this is their fifth appearance in that contest in seven seasons.
Hamilton has the best record in the league this year at 15-3, and that included going 8-0 at home. One of those home wins was a 42-12 defeat of the Esks.
Since the crossover rule was implemented in 1996, the team crossing over has never advanced to the Grey Cup. The odds look against Edmonton breaking that streak.
The one area that Edmonton have an advantage in is experience. Jason Maas is 3-2 as a head coach in the playoffs. QB Trevor Harris has been here before.
Hamilton meanwhile are led by a rookie head coach and QB Dane Evans who will be making his first-career playoff start.
The West Final
Winnipeg Blue Bombers (12-7) at Saskatchewan Roughriders (13-5)
The Blue Bombers lost to the eventual Champion Stampeders at this stage last year and will be looking to go one step further. Once again though they are the visiting team and it will be interesting to see if that extra weeks wear and tear has an impact on this game.
This will be Craig Dickenson’s first playoff game as a head coach; Mike O’Shea will be in his sixth playoff game.
This could be the Zach Collaros bowl as the man who started out at the helm for Saskatchewan returns behind centre for Winnipeg.
A key factor could also be the health of Cody Fajardo. Rider fans are hoping he will be good to go.
One Game Away
This is always an exciting time of year in the CFL. You have to love the playoffs when teams go head to head in an all or nothing contest.
For fans of both these sets of teams the excitement and tension will be building.
We are just one game away from the 2019 Grey Cup now and we won’t know who will be contesting it until these games are played out. Bring it on!
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